(This photo has nothing to do with this post. I just love it. P was about 6 months old. We were in Amsterdam. I was really happy here. Look at that face...)
While others are posting about the cute crafts they made with their kids today and my pinterest is exploding with projects that I would never have enough time to attempt, I decided to dedicate this post to writing about someone I love - me. Yes. I love myself. You should too. (Yourself, not me. Although, feel free to love me too.)
My relationship with myself was not always one of deep love and appreciation. I experienced all the same mild self hatred that most women experience in their late teens/early twenties. I starved myself of decent food, sleep, and meaningful relationships. My life and body were filled with toxic people and foods. Not to mention I never gave myself a break. Whenever something didn't work out in my life, I always found a reason to blame myself. Boys, diets, college, first jobs, friends, apartments...it was all my fault. My story is not unusual. And it's not as bleak as it sounds. I would not say that I was much different (in this sense) from any other young woman trying to find her way in this city. Those years were probably the funnest, wildest, and most carefree I have ever experienced. I don't say this in a woe-is-me kind of way. I am grateful for all the experiences, good and bad, that got me to the point I am at now, which is a good one. But it took lots of self discovery and knocking myself down over and over to learn how to treat myself best. And now, years later, it is constantly something I am working on.
Becoming pregnant, experiencing a miscarriage, carrying a baby, experiencing natural childbirth, becoming a mother...there is not many ways to prepare for these experiences. And all of them broke me down to my core. There was no time to blame myself, no energy to analyze what I had done wrong this time, when there is a little life to care for. I had to eliminate all the toxicity in my life. All the crippling feelings I had about myself. And then find that love within myself. Most of this happened after my miscarriage and in the first few months of being pregnant with Phoenix. I cried every day. I had so much fear. So much anxiety about what I had done wrong the first time. But I realized that it wasn't healthy for me or the baby to hold all the fear and all those emotions inside myself. So I let them go and began trusting. The universe, the process, God...whatever you want to call it. I just convinced myself that this was the journey I was on, all these moments were small pieces of my story, and if I fixated on the negative parts there wouldn't be much room for anything else.
So I carried that baby with all the love I had. I birthed him with every bit of self hatred I had leaving my body. How could I feel disappointed in myself after everything my body - and I - was capable of doing? But then came breastfeeding and all the difficulties, crying, pain, infections, frustration, and new reasons to blame myself. Again I found myself feeling not worthy of this perfect little being. I remember moments of feeling so unfit to being his mother. I felt so far away from this image I had of the mother I wanted to be. But after several months, and after our breastfeeding troubles were behind us, I was able to let go of that disappointment. I was free to be proud of myself.
Once Phoenix was around 12 months old, it felt like our life was changing daily. His needs changed, schedule changed, and expectations changed. This threw us for another loop. Suddenly I had even more obligations. Now, I'm a dreamer. I have so many ideas I would love to further explore, so many projects always on the horizon. As you can imagine, it's often frustrating not knowing how or when to make these dreams a reality. They feel so close yet so unattainable. Again came the self resentment. I was frustrated with myself for not being able to wrap my head around my own life. Not to have 40 hours in a day. There came a moment that I felt like I had hit rock bottom. Every day was a struggle. I didn't understand how so many moms had it all together. How were they running successful businesses, mothering with ease, showcasing their latest pinterest triumph (maybe I have some kind of pinterest anxiety?), and blogging all about it? And how did they not look constantly tired, like I did? I felt like I couldn't handle anything. The walls were closing in on me. Simple tasks became a cycle of frustration, anger, and crying. Every night I felt like a failure. As days went by I realized I was becoming paralyzed by my own self doubt. As much support as I had from my husband, family, and friends, I had to really look to myself. (Side note: This was also a reason I began featuring mom's group. I was reaching out for more support!)
And so I did just that. I gave myself a break. Although I do feel like I truly "have it all" in my life, it's so relevant to me. Being a mother has definitely shown me that my strengths are greater than I imagined and magnified my weaknesses even more. Which helps me when my craft anxiety sets in. I have been knitting one scarf since I've been pregnant. It might take me a while to finish it and I'm okay with that.